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Holding Hands

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Fury looked up from his desk as the door to his office slammed open. Steve Rogers, potential class president, stormed inside with Tony Stark in tow. Barnes, their new transfer student, trailed after them. He looked withdrawn and shifty, as he had ever since his first day. Steve, though, just looked pissed. He all but tossed Tony into one of the chairs in front of Fury’s desk and then dumped the genius’s gauntlet right on top of Fury’s papers.

“Sir, I’m here to report a case of bullying.”

Fury let one eyebrow arch upwards as he eyed the three of them. His gaze lingered on Tony, the genius clutching both arms to his stomach and looking rumpled. He wouldn’t meet Fury’s gaze.

“Taskmaster or Pym?” Fury asked with a weary sigh. “I’ve warned him but you know how the professor is about listening.”

Tony hunched over further in his chair as Steve squared his shoulders and stood straighter, glowering.

“Neither, Sir. Tony’s been making fun of Bucky’s prosthetic arm.”

Fury blinked and looked over each of them again.

“Stark?”

Tony grumbled something under his breath. He was gripping his elbow tightly and glaring into his lap.

“He shoved Bucky in the hall,” Steve supplied, visibly gearing up for an entire rant if he needed one. “Then he shoved his gauntlet into Bucky’s chest and ran off, shouting at Bucky over his shoulder.”

Fury’s lips thinned and he sighed.

“And what, precisely, was said?”

Steve’s scowl only deepened.

“He said, ‘Thanks for holding my hand’,” Barnes said. “C’mon, Stevie, can’t we just leave it?”

“He was making fun of you, Buck!”

“So fucking what? It’s still a Hell of a lot better than HYDRA!”

“Language,” Fury cut them both off with a growl. He glared them into submission and then sighed. “Stark, explain to me the shoving. That’s the piece that isn’t quite fitting for me here.”

Tony’s eyes darted up to meet his for a split second, a glimmer of hope in them. He glanced at Steve and Barnes before hunching back over into himself.

“I didn’t shove him,” Tony said to his knees. “I just knocked into him. I was running and… off-balance.”

Fury nodded.

“Taskmaster, then?”

The young genius shrugged.

“He was gonna throw it in a tree again. I thought maybe if I threw it to Barnes then he wouldn’t have anything to take.”

“And you trusted the brand new transfer student because…”

Tony looked up again, briefly.

“He’s only got one arm.”

Fury stood before Steve could literally explode with anger.

“I think I’ve got the full picture now. Shall we get you all back together, then?”

Tony shifted a bit uncomfortably and glanced at Steve and Barnes again.

“I, um…”

“I think it would be better if they were here. It might clear some things up.”

Tony frowned but nodded anyway. Fury stepped around his desk to help the genius out of his jacket. The moment the jacket was off, it became impossible to hide the fact that Tony’s arm was missing until just before the elbow. Fury eyed the other two students in his office as he picked up the gauntlet on his desk and fitted it back into place.

“What?” Steve finally asked.

“Taskmaster likes to steal his arm and hide it,” Fury explained since it was clear Tony had no intention of doing so. “I think it’s about time I ramped him up from detention to suspension. He won’t be around for the rest of the week, okay, Stark?”

Tony nodded to indicate he understood and shrugged his jacket back on. Steve was still gaping.

“But, wait, why didn’t you just say something?”

For the first time since Steve had dragged him into Fury’s office, Tony actually looked angry.

“Probably because by the time I figured out you didn’t know it was too late to change your mind, Rogers. You made your decision and nothing I was gonna be able to say would change that.”

“How was I even supposed to know in the first place?”

“It’s not like it’s a secret! Everybody knows! Why do you think Professor Pym teamed us up in class this morning? He likes to group everything by type.”

Steve still seemed to be struggling with the revelation but Barnes stepped in.

“This Taskmaster guy really steals your arm?”

Tony shrugged, looking away.

“He’s kind of an asshole like that. Keep an eye out for him.”

Barnes stepped closer, smiling a bit.

“Mine doesn’t come off so easy. It might be a bit harder for him.”

“Lucky you.”

“But, you know, hey… If you ever need somebody to hold your hand again, I’d be happy to help.”

Yep, it was definitely time for Fury to kick them all out of his office.